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Response to the $600 million Fundraising Initiative for Abortion Access by the International Community
MARCH 6, 2017 St. John's, Newfoundland- MaterCare International, Canada (MCI) opposes the current funding initiatives by nearly 50 countries to provide and promote abortions as the family planning method of choice for poorer countries. The Canadian government is committing nearly $20 million to the $600 million international goal to fund so-called sexual health and family planning initiatives reacting to the US withdrawal of funds for abortions and abortion-related services overseas. MCI opposes this titanic effort of the international community in choosing to fund abortions, which do not significantly reduce maternal deaths, over meeting the basic obstetrical needs of mothers and children in order to greatly reduce maternal mortality.
MCI has spent over 20 years working with mothers and children in some of the world’s poorest regions. In our decades of experience, we have seen that the only coherent way to reduce maternal and perinatal mortalities is to provide essential obstetrical care that women take for granted here in Canada. Causes of maternal mortality are well known and include; postpartum haemorrhage (35%), Hypertension (18%), Indirect causes (HIV, anaemia, malaria & non-communicable diseases) (18%), other direct causes (ectopic pregnancy, pulmonary embolism, obstructed labour) (11%) amounting to 91%. Deaths occur during the last three months of pregnancy, during labour and delivery and two weeks afterwards and are preventable .with essential obstetrics which includes comprehensive prenatal care with identification of mothers at high risk mothers, safe clean facilities, adequately equipped in which to deliver, and properly trained health professionals, midwives and doctors.
MCI is presently operating a project in a county in Kenya with a population of 188,000 of mostly nomadic pasturalists, 60% of whom are below the poverty line. The county has been described as “unique” because of the arid climate, and generally poor roads, communications, and healthcare infrastructure, as well as isolation and neglect. The grim reality of maternal health status and services in the county.is maternal mortality (M.M.) is reported as 480/100,000 live births although the county statistician has stated there is underreporting and the true figure was more likely 750/100,000 live births. (Ibid) Thus MM is the highest in Kenya and probably sub-Saharan Africa. There is only one Government hospital with one operating theatre. Most mothers in rural areas do not receive any prenatal care and deliver in their manyattas (huts) without trained help or sanitary conditions. The result is that most of the maternal deaths occur in the villages. Presently there is a severe drought with the loss of cattle and severe malnutrition compounding the problems of health care access and inadequate services.
Abortion is irrelevant to relieving the tragedy of maternal death and drought. To provide abortion above access to standard care reveals abortion for what it truly is, yet another easier, cheaper, uniformed and less humanist option provided by wealthier countries with their own ideology and agendas for poorer countries whose people are in desperate need of real and tangible compassion and competency.
The mothers, families, colleagues, elders and communities we work with have all expressed the that abortion is an attack on Africa, a form of cultural imperialism, and a new sort of colonialism. African communities are tired of Western governments and NGOs interfering with their cultural systems and values and enforcing the ultimatum of acceptance of Western values in exchange for services.
If the Canadian government and the greater international community are serious about helping mothers, then they must extend the same access to clean, affordable delivery facilities and skilled healthcare professionals that we offer to women in Canada. This standard of care must be the priority in order to reduce maternal deaths.
Dr R.L. Walley
Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Ph office : +1 (709) 579-6472
Mobile +1 (709) 749-3826